Cricket legend Jonty Rhodes is currently the coach for “Mumbai Indians” team. When not on the cricket pitch Jonty has always loved riding bicycles, specially mountain bikes! We caught up with the sports icon in Chennai while on a Surf trip.
FRM: How much time do you spend on your bike?
JR: This year has seen the maximum time I’ve clocked behind the bars, I’ve been riding more in India than in South Africa. And personally on my bike I wanna be off the streets and into the woods as quick as possible. So that’s pretty much the plan and being a Brand Ambassador for Montra bikes it surely allows me more minutes on the bike. I’ve also flagged off a few races and participated in the first few stages too
FRM: Describe your riding style?
JR: Definitely a Mountain biker. Growing up in South Africa definitely gave me access to a lot of singletracks hence love them. And in India not many people are aware of the single track concept and this country has a lot of potential for that just like surfing, the coastline India has is massive just waiting to be tapped into. So yea this gives a very open space, single tracks with less people is exactly what a biker wants.
FRM: Would you like to try mountain biking professionally?
JR: No, but I have been riding in South Africa since a long time, almost everyday. I’ve done quite a few stage races too. But I’m a guy who likes to enjoy my sport. Same with cricket. I turned it into a profession by chance which wasn’t the plan originally. So, yea mountain biking, I don’t think ill be racing professionally at my age, but you’ll definitely see me on the saddle!
FRM: What do you think about the cycling culture in India?
JR: I’ve been coming to India since 1993 and back then you could only spot them ridden by tea walas and daily wage laborers who would use them as a mode of transport out of lack of funds. Back then it was frowned upon, people would like to travel in Motorized vehicles.
But now the whole scene has flipped, you see a lot of people stepping outdoors and using bicycles not only as a way of commuting but also for exercise. And due to the traffic problems more and more people are taking up biking. So yea, it’s good to see the people taking up biking and at the same time you have various brands available giving out quality products at a fairly affordable price.
FRM: Do you think your cricketing background helped in cycling/ were you riding when you were a professional?
JR: As a cricketer I was asked to stay away from extreme sports and Mountain bikes in particular. Cause one small mistake or a bail could harm my career or even the schedule which will not affect only me but also my team. For eg: Dale Steyn the cricketer from South Africa has been in trouble quite a few times cause of his knack of sports like skateboarding and surfing.
So yeah if you’re on a contract basis with the cricket board and getting a salary it’s best to stay away from extreme sports. It wasn’t a complimentary thing for me when I was a player but now that I’m a coach for Mumbai Indians, people don’t mind if I get injured that badly.
FRM: What’s your favorite Montra bike and what makes It special?
JR: Well my favorite bike isn’t launched yet, it’s a new bike called the Helicon and I’m waiting for it. What makes it special is that it’s a hybrid. So between my Mountain biking and commuting this fits in perfectly. Back at home in Cape town, South Africa there are a lot of places to be, we’ve got the ocean, the mountains, lot of good places to go ride, so I would love to take the Helicon there for that purpose.
FRM: What are your future plans with Montra as a brand ambassador?
JR: Well yea, back In South Africa we have this road race called the Cape Town cycle Tour which is one of the biggest cycle events world wide and I would definitely love the Montra Team to be there. Being the brand ambassador of the south Africa tourism too, if I can get some Indian cyclists there I guess I’m doing my job!
FRM: Any specific place you’d love to ride?
JR: Yea for sure I would love to ride around the Mountains in India. I’ve been to Lonavala on my motorbike and the landscape there looks appealing to me as a Mountain biker. And Maharashtra in totality is a good offering for outdoors. For outsiders it’s a state with a lot of urban space and coastline but the Sahyadris are perfect for mountain biking.
FRM: Whats your greatest achievement so far on a Bicycle?
JR: Well my younger brother back in the days was a cricketer and a rugby player and as a sports person he had put on a lot of weight. So I gave him a challenge to participate in a 3 day race. And he was weighing around 150kgs at that time which is a lot of meat to carry and dropped down to almost 114kgs. So for the first 2 days there was a lot of climbing sections where I had to push him up but on the 3rd day he was like a runaway train, I had to be on my pedals to keep up with him. This was a great experience for me and the achievement wasn’t finishing the race or the medals but leading him to a healthy lifestyle was totally worth the efforts.
FRM: Any message for the riders in India?
JR: Watch out for the horn! When someone honks get outta the way before he runs you over!
But on a more serious note keep riding!
I mean the people taking up the sport right now are pioneers, they’re witnessing the birth stage of this sport in India and every sport requires pioneers to show what can be done! Also, as a lifestyle it’s a great sport and a collective one too. You can have a great time with your buds and your family too. So yea, don’t stop riding!